Friday, October 24, 2014

Founders' Design Corrupted

Our nation's founders wrote the Federalist Papers to articulate their vision for a new independent nation and justify their proposed design for a new government. They wrote using pseudonyms due to fear for the authors' liberty and life if the crown discovered their true identities.

Writing as "Publius" in Federalist No. 52, one of the founders (widely thought by historians to be James Madison, although some believe it may have been Alexander Hamilton) argued for a "government which ought to be dependent on the people alone."

He outlined principles of representation through elections that would produce such a condition.

A government dependent on the people alone. That was the founders' design. That was their gift to us.

You and I know we do not have that today. You and I know this design has been fundamentally corrupted.

Today's government officials are not dependent on the people alone. They have conflicting dependencies. Competing dependencies.

Elected representatives are supposed to take their cues from the voters alone. But with election campaigning so insanely expensive, those representatives have little choice but to also take cues from their campaign donors. And the donor population is not the same as the voting population. On average, state legislators get two-thirds of their campaign money from people who cannot vote for them because these financial backers live outside the legislators' districts. Governor Scott Walker gets more than half of his money from people who are ineligible to vote for him because they live outside Wisconsin's borders.

This corruption of the founders' design has very tangible costs.

A Democracy Campaign report identified close to four dozen actions taken by legislators and the governor just since January 2013 that provided at least $760 million worth of benefits to special interests in the form of tax breaks and other policy favors.

These decisions cost the average family of four $528. If you read the entire list of actions, you will be hard-pressed to find a single one that benefits you. There is a sales tax exemption for companies that print and deliver junk mail. There is another sales tax exemption for aircraft parts.

When you go to the department store to buy a pair of shoes or some clothing, you pay the sales tax. But if you have enough money to own an airplane, you no longer have to pay tax on parts for your plane. If you are in the junk mail business, you don't have to pay the state sales tax anymore either.

Manufacturers of lead paint have been given protection from future product liability lawsuits. Those who send their children to private schools now get an income tax deduction. The list goes on and on.

Here in Wisconsin we've been told repeatedly that the state is broke and government must do less for us. Yet those who bankroll election campaigns have been given more. At least $760 million more.

The few benefit at the expense of the many because the founders' design has been corrupted and we do not have a government dependent on the people alone.


Anonymous said...

Spot on! Most of the legislation in the past 4 years has either benefited special interests, select groups of people or a particular political party. When one listens to Assembly Speaker Vos declare in certain terms the legislation "HE" will consider it is not of, for and by the people. Because Vos's party has total power in all 3 branches of government they care not what the people want or need only what their money backers want and what their party needs to maintain a chokehold on Wisconsin's government!

Anonymous said...

We're circulating a flyer in support of MTA pledge signer that describes her opponent as part of the "dependency corruption." If he's unseated, we'll have a model for electing supporters of Move to Amend on a low budget.

clyde winter said...

Prior to the ratification of any Amendments, the original text of the U.S. Constitution contained only two sentences which included the word, "People". The first of these sentences is, of course, the remarkable, moving, precedent setting Preamble. The one and only other sentence in the entire body of the unamended Constitution in which the word "People" appears is the second sentence of Article I. That sentence states that, "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States ..."

Please note that the Constitution does NOT state that the Members of Congress shall be chosen by the managers of two corporate controlled political parties which have established rules and laws which prevent any other political parties from challenging these two permitted parties. The Constitution does NOT state that the Members of Congress shall be chosen by huge corporate political action committees; by cabals of trans-national corporate power like the Chamber of Commerce, the Associations of Manufacturers, and the American Legislative Exchange Council; by massively wealthy, often anonymous "donors" to election campaigns and the two permitted political parties; by ideological think tanks; by major "contributors" of corruption who are artificial legal entities (not real people) or who are extremely wealthy people who do not even reside in the state which the candidate seeks to represent.

The selection process used today for Congressional elections blatantly and outrageously violates the explicit direction of the Constitution as it was originally written, and no Amendment has ever altered in the slightest the original clear and unambiguous intent that the People are to choose their Representatives.

The People of the several States shall chose the Members of the House of Representatives to represent them in Congress, by democratic election, with one equal vote for each qualified Elector. We don't have to browse and peruse peripheral historical documents to see what the Constitution itself explicitly establishes. We the People just have to make it stick.